Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said National Insurance has paid nearly $2 million in unemployment benefits on Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“For a number of businesses who right after the storm were impacted and temporarily had to close, National Insurance’s unemployment benefit kicked in,” he said outside Cabinet.
“And so, from the storm to the latest numbers, I think in December, unemployment benefit that has been paid out has been in excess of $1.7 million, which has been paid out to Grand Bahamians since the storm,” he said.
Dorian swept across Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, flattening parts of both islands and leaving thousands homeless and displaced.
Thompson said the government has also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental assistance and appliance assistance for Grand
“Social Services provides rental assistance to all of those persons who have been displaced,” he said.
“Since the storm, they’ve actually provided assistance to Grand Bahamians for rental assistance to the tune of over $700,000.
“With respect to appliances, persons in Grand Bahama can go to Social Services and can receive appliance assistance each for up to $2,000. And since the storm, Social Services has provided in excess of $400,000 to persons for assistance for appliances.”
While there have been concerns over the pace of recovery on Grand Bahama, Thompson said, so far, the government has approved over $500,000 in micro loans and small business grants through the Small Business Development Centre.
“Small businesses are a very important part of the rebuilding process,” he said.
“The government has provided $10 million for small businesses. That’s for Abaco and for Grand Bahama. And, to date, we have about 60 plus businesses who have been provided assistance through the Small Business Development Centre. And for micro loans, they’ve approved about $300,000. And for small business grants, they’ve actually approved in excess of $250,000 for Grand Bahamians’ small businesses.”
Thompson noted $10 million has also been allocated to start up the Small Home Repair Programme on both islands.
“We realize that the need in Grand Bahama is great, but the government will continue to do whatever it can and continue to work towards meeting the needs of those persons in Grand Bahama,” he said.